The 111th Congress and Homeschooling
As the 111th Congress comes to Washington along with the Obama administration, many homeschoolers wonder what Democrat control of the federal government will mean for them and their families.
AND TO HSLDA.
The initial priorities of the new Congress and administration will not likely be regulating homeschooling for two main reasons. First, hot button issues such as the economy and foreign affairs will consume the majority of their time. Second, homeschooling’s wide bipartisan appeal will prevent it from being an easy target. However, we do expect some of the following issues that affect homeschoolers to come up:
Early Childhood Education
You may remember an e-lert that HSLDA sent out in late 2008, requesting calls to Congress to oppose House Bill 2343, the Education Begins at Home Act. This measure would have given states federal funds to create early education programs. While many of these programs sound helpful—and would be wonderful programs if they were privately funded by churches or other organizations—they open the back door to government regulation of parenting and even more government control over the education of young children. Because of this, HSLDA opposes any attempt to increase federal funding of early education programs.
Since early education was a centerpiece of President Obama’s election campaign, it will likely be one of the first battles during the 111th Congress.
Elementary & Secondary Education Act reauthorization
This is also known as the “No Child Left Behind” reauthorization (NCLB). HSLDA’s federal relations department has been working on this issue for many years. When Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed this massive federal education bill back in 2000, HSLDA worked with Congress to insert special protections to ensure that (1) none of the provisions applied to homeschoolers, (2) there would be no nationalized teacher certification, (3) there would be no national database of students, (4) there would be no national test, and (5) there would be no national curriculum.
Although HSLDA opposes the massive federal involvement in education that NCLB reauthorizes, we have worked to make sure that the bill at least keeps these protections for homeschoolers. In the 110th Congress, a discussion draft version of the reauthorization kept in all of the protections listed above. It remains to be seen, however, if the 111th Congress will preserve them when the bill is finalized. These protections are nonnegotiable to homeschoolers and to HSLDA, so any attempt to leave out one of them will be viewed as an attack on homeschooling freedom.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
We do not know whether President Obama supports this dangerous treaty, a document which would become the highest law of the land and undermine parental rights. (Read more about the treaty at www.ParentalRights.org.) However, we do
know that Vice President Biden is a strong and vocal supporter of it. With the shift in the Senate’s political makeup, there is a very strong possibility that the Obama administration could submit this treaty to the Senate for ratification. Thankfully, the U.S. Constitution sets a high standard—a two-thirds vote—for the ratification of a treaty in the Senate. However, the vote would likely be so close that an unprecedented effort from homeschoolers and parents nationwide would be needed to defeat ratification.
The homeschool community will definitely face many challenges from the 111th Congress. However, by the grace of God, we will be able to work together to preserve the right of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children during this congressional session and beyond.